Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Idiotsitter pilot lays the groundwork for a filthy, fun buddy comedy

Illustration for article titled Idiotsitter pilot lays the groundwork for a filthy, fun buddy comedy

With its webseries-to-Comedy Central origin story and two-women buddy comedy setup, Idiotsitter can’t really avoid comparisons to Broad City. Like Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Idiotsitter’s leading ladies Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse came up in the improv world, and they immediately come to life on screen. Bell and Newhouse are very natural leads, and even though the pilot keeps its characters and story in pretty constricted boxes, there are little glimmers that Idiotsitter could flourish into a more dimensional comedy than its initial setup suggests.

Bell plays Gene, who we first meet drunk, riding a stolen horse, soliciting policemen for sex. That seems to be pretty par for the course for Gene, the resident idiot with rich parents who does whatever she wants with little understanding of boundaries or responsibilities. Her father (played by Stephen Root) tricks Newhouse’s Billie into fulfilling the role of court-appointed guardian and GED tutor for his aimless, reckless daughter so that he can do more important things like attend a breathing workshop overseas. Billie, naturally, is not a thing like Gene. Tightly wound and straight-laced, Billie is the Type A to Gene’s Type B. It’s a straightforward buddy comedy dynamic, and if Idiotsitter is going to stand out in the same way Broad City did in its first season, it needs to find a way to play with that dynamic. What makes the relationship central to Broad City so great is that Abbi and Ilana are starkly different, but neither fits super neatly into a predetermined type. Idiotsitter hasn’t quite figured out how to do that yet, especially because the pilot has to take on the tedious task of setting everything up, allowing little room for nuance.

But it’s worth noting that the relationship in Broad City is intrinsically different than the relationship in Idiotsitter. Broad City relies on the common ground between the characters, and they’re more of a dynamic duo than a dysfunctional one, with the show favoring friendship over fighting. In fact, the dynamic between Gene and Billie is much more evocative of the late, great ABC comedy Don’t Trust The B—— In Apartment 23, in which the devilish Chloe (Krysten Ritter) tricks wide-eyed, innocent June (Dreama Walker) into becoming her roommate. Even the tone and humor of both shows is somewhat similar, relying significantly on a zippy pace and endless pop culture references. But the comedy in Idiotsitter isn’t quite as sharp, and while the pilot has its moments (especially in the form of visual gags), a lot of it falls flat. Steve Berg’s Bret (Gene’s “best nonsexual friend”) is immediately pointless and annoying in a way that isn’t the least bit amusing, which makes me fear that Idiotsitter may already have its Bevers. Bret and Gene’s plot to “hoofie” (half-roofie/half-horse-tranquilizer) Billie is unfortunately predictable and unfunny. It seemed like a plot that would have fared much better, in fact, on Don’t Trust The B. Don’t Trust The B relied on how wonderfully wicked Krysten Ritter’s Chloe was, and Gene isn’t really an evil mastermind so much as a, well, idiot. And an idiot is bound to become grating much faster than an evil mastermind is.

But again, Idiotsitter can avoid falling into a trap with the Gene and Billie dichotomy by showing that the characters are more dimensional than the premise initially suggests. In the pilot, it makes sense that the contrast between the characters is hit repeatedly and with a lot of force. And there are a few early hints that Gene and Billie aren’t as simple as they seem. Gene, as self-centered as she might act, does seem to have a big heart. Her childlike behavior makes her wild, but there’s also a childlike sweetness there. It’s an intriguing facet of her personality, but in the pilot, it’s written a little inconsistently, which could just be a product of Bell and Newhouse—who also write the series—not wanting to show their hands too soon.

I find it very telling that the best scene in Idiotsitter’s pilot finds a point of commonality between Billie and Gene. After waking up from her hoofie slumber, Billie understandably has had enough and decides to get the hell out of Gene’s life. But Gene chases Billie down and tells her to stay in a touching and sentimental speech…that is ripped straight from the script of Dirty Dancing. It’s a moment perfectly fitting for Idiotsitter’s world, because even though she’s ripping off a movie monologue, there does seem to be some genuine emotion behind what Gene’s saying. After all, she went after Billie, and Gene doesn’t really go out of her way to do anything. The Dirty Dancing bit allows Idiotsitter to have a truly great character moment without betraying its generally ridiculous and weird voice. Plus, Dirty Dancing is immediately something Billie and Gene can agree on, and the show needs to find more of those little things if this relationship is going to be at all compelling. The scene as a whole is the first real suggestion in the pilot that there’s more to both Billie and Gene—and that there’s more to Idiotsitter, too.

Stray observations

  • Given the transition music, it doesn’t seem like Idiotsitter is actively trying to avoid comparisons to Broad City.
  • “Why…is there a ponytail…IN THE SINK?”
  • I laughed the most at the partygoers chanting “Black Eyed Peas!”
  • “Get it, girl. Get it just like Meg Ryan would.”
  • “Can I be honest with you guys? I write Ladyhawke fan fiction.”
  • Did you already know about Dishdogz or did you have to Google Dishdogz? I’ll be honest: I Googled Dishdogz.